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Brian Ward Shouts Up Captain N on DVD

In 1989, Nintendo and NBC teamed up to bring the world of Nintendo to Saturday mornings with Captain N: The Game Master. In the show, teenager Kevin Keene and his faithful dog Duke get summoned to the alternate universe of Videoland, where Kevin becomes Captain N, leading the N Team against the forces of evil, led by Mother Brain. The show’s cast, friend and foe alike, was composed of characters from Nintendo video games. The show ran for 3 seasons before getting cancelled along with a number of other Saturday morning cartoons in the early 1990’s.

The Shout Factory is bringing back those days of classic video games with the 4 DVD set of Captain N: The Game Master. Toon Zone News checked in via e-mail with the Shout Factory’s Brian Ward to get the lowdown on the set.

TOON ZONE NEWS: What is your official title and role?

BRIAN WARD: Producer/Manager, DVD & Home Video

Captain N: The Game MasterTZN: How did you get your start with the Shout! Factory?

BW: My story with Shout! Factory is the classic tale of starting out in the mail room and working my way up. I literally started out by working three days a week, working for the marketing department, stuffing envelopes and sending them out. That turned into a full-time gig, doing the same thing for the entire company.

While I was doing that, I sort of weaseled my way into the DVD department by asking questions, offering to help QC the discs, etc. Before long, I was working for the DVD department as the department’s coordinator, making sure elements were all cataloged and everything was where it needed to be to make the DVDs.

My boss couldn’t help but notice my desire to make the discs more “collectible,” and then we got the DiC library — with which I was very familiar — I was given my first real shot at producing a set on my own with C.O.P.S.: The Animated Series. And I haven’t looked back since.

TZN: I noticed a lot of video game cartoons in your list of releases. What brought about a focus on making sure you snag everyone of those instead of hitting up another 80’s classic like Turbo Teen or Mighty Orbots?

BW: Honestly, I never really thought about it before. I guess the more successful titles have been video game-based. Really, it’s just what we were given by DiC. Like I said, my first set was C.O.P.S.: The Animated Series and, since then, I’ve worked on stuff like Inspector Gadget, Elvira’s Movie Macabre, The Very Best of Sabrina: The Animated Series, Inside the Actors Studio and NBC’s version of Men Behaving Badly.

TZN: Are there a lot of gamers at the Shout! Factory?

BW: There are a few of us. The company was started by Richard Foos and his brother, Garson. Richard was the guy responsible for starting Rhino Records back in the day, so Shout! — very much like Rhino — has always been focused on the more nostalgic stuff. Up until recently, that’s been sets that have appealed more to folks born before the “gamer revolution.” Still, I know Richard has quite the collection of classic pinball machines, so I guess that makes him something of a classic gamer!

TZN: What are some of the favorite games over there? What do you play when you get the time?

BW: I’ve gotta be honest, I know I’ve produced a lot of Nintendo-based sets, but I’m totally a Playstation kid. I always wanted a Nintendo when I was growing up, but my parents never let me have one. So when I got older, I bought my first Playstation.

I’ve absolutely gotta have my Metal Gear Solid, the Resident Evil series, the Medal of Honor series, Madden. And anything especially creepy. I love getting creeped out in the dark with a controller in my hands.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, though, I’m currently playing Destroy All Humans! 2 and just finished up with the Lego Star Wars II game. Both are pretty hysterical and highly recommended.

TZN: Can you tell us a little more about the first project you did for Shout! Factory?

BW: The first project I produced from beginning to end was C.O.P.S.: The Animated Series. I was chosen because it was a show I loved as a kid. I remember going over to DiC for the first time and looking through their boxes of art and stuff. It was like going to Disneyland. I’m still really fond of that set, actually.

Kevin Keene and Princess Lana and ultimatewarpzone.com. Those guys have helped me out tremendously.

TZN: Did you run into any road blocks?

BW: There were a few road blocks. Like I said, there were a couple false starts. Cartoons from the 80s were notorious for incorporating current pop hits into the series for no apparent reason. Captain N was no different. Unfortunately, those producers never thought about the show having a second life on DVD or the publishing costs for using those songs, so DiC had to remove those REALLY EXPENSIVE pop songs and replace them with music score. That took quite a while.

My other major road block was just getting stuff approved. There’s a lot of bonus material that, sadly, couldn’t make it onto the set because the powers that be shot it down.

Simon Belmont.

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